Pre-season patter: Swim coaches miss practices but they have good excuse

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

Elk River’s new girls swimming coach and his assistant are both missing the two weeks of preseason practice, but they have a good excuse. Luke and Liz Johnson are currently on their honeymoon in the Mediterranean Sea.

Luke Johnson, 2001 ERHS graduate, was named in March to succeed Colleen Killpatrick, coach for 19 years who moved to Lakeville. Johnson had wedding plans for early August. His fiancee was hired as his assistant earlier this month.

Johnson addressed his team the first day of practice, Monday, Aug. 12, before taking off. He’ll be back next week. The first dual is home Tuesday against Stillwater.

Meanwhile, boys swimming coach Denise Eidem and another teacher, Eric Opsahl, have been running the practices with help from two parents, Julie Odegard and Laura Benson, along with 2013 graduate Aaron Schwab.

Preseason patter

•Spectrum has a new football coach from out-of-state. Seth Mills, a Kansas native who was a head coach the past two years at an Oklahoma high school, moved to his wife’s home state this fall and joined the faculty at Spectrum, teaching geometry and computers. Brett Wendlund, who started the Sting’s football program last year, left to be director of a new private school in Plymouth.

•Mike Cross, former Elk head football coach, joined the Zimmerman staff this year under head coach Tom Kish. Cross, who’ll assist with safeties and defense,  was a spectator the past two years when son Derek, played for the Elks.

•Bruce Schulzetenberg has the distinction of being the first Rogers graduate to return to the school as a teacher. The 2007 graduate has also joined his former coach, Chris Miller, on the staff of the boys soccer team.

•Seven recent Thunder graduates are playing college football: Jamal Samaha at Augustana, Ethan Lunning at St. Olaf, Jeff Sloneker at Minnesota-Morris, Collin Ashley at Concordia-St. Paul, and Jake Antolak, Jeff Mueller and Cory Jopp at Minnesota-Moorhead.

•Rogers and Elk River cross-country teams will co-host an invitational Oct. 3 at Fox Hollow. Rogers has hosted it for two years. It’s a unique meet in that you can watch almost the whole race from a hill by the starting line. Elk River wanted in this year, and the coaches decided to co-host. Zimmerman and Spectrum will be there.

•Abi Scheid, who made a huge impact as a 6-2 freshman center on the Elk basketball team last winter, earning MVP honors, has joined the volleyball team after playing soccer previously as a goalkeeper. She’s a middle hitter.

•The Eden Prairie football team that awaits Elk River for next Thursday’s opener boasts a 229-24 record with six unbeaten seasons and eight championships in 21 years under Mike Grant, son of Vikings Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant.